Horse News

Doing Our Part – And Being Dismissed

Original Story by SFTHH Investigative Reporter Lisa LeBlanc

In the past few years, on government web sites and in newspaper op-eds, a large portion of the failure for the Wild Horse and Burro Program was laid on the overwhelming populations of wild equines on the ranges and in holding, then at the feet of the Public, for lackluster performances in adopting thousands of animals removed in the face of a poor economy. Yet, according to information published by the Bureau of Land Management, the Public has participated, to the best of it’s ability, even in the leanest years, 2007 – 2009.

In August of 2010, a spreadsheet was developed, incorporating Wild Horse and Burro removal numbers, population estimates and theoretical reproductive percentage rates, all based on data gleaned and calculated from the BLM’s “Public Land Statistics” from 2000 – 2009. These published statistics also include numbers of animals adopted.

2010 Public Land Statistics have yet to be published, and so will not be included here. But from 2000 – 2009, based on data archived in Public Land Statistics, 94,280 wild horses and burros had been removed from their ranges. In that same period, 57,212 animals were acquired by the Public – nearly 65% – a staggering percentage given tight constraints on personal budgets and the various declarations of failure. In any given year published, these statistics show more than half the animals removed were adopted. In fiscal years 2007 – 2009 – years of critical economic concern – of the 19,414 animals removed, 11,952 were adopted. ‘Adoption’ is an overall assumption; there were no separate statistics published in these documents for animals acquired under Sale Authority.

There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the “Removal and Adoption” page:

The adoption numbers have been adjusted downward to account for animals that have been returned to BLM and have been re-adopted. These adjustments have been made since 2004 to account for the 300 to 500 adopted animals that are returned to BLM annually.”

The interested Public is attempting to participate, though efforts at cooperation have become overshadowed by segues into the ridiculous:

Lady Madeleine Pickens has put her considerable wealth and energy behind efforts to relieve the BLM of a portion of it’s burden by securing a massive acquisition of captive Wild Horses and constructing a large-scale sanctuary, a beautiful desert mirage that continues to shimmer in the distance, just beyond reach. Despite Lady Madeleine’s willingness to continually rework her best laid plans to placate all involved, her goals remain unfulfilled;

A small group of determined citizens moved mountains personally and financially, to acquire legacy Stallions and Mares from the 2010 Calico Complex roundup, to provide them a home and a promise of a quality of life. Altered a bit from what they had known but perpetually safe from the blanket dismissal of an Environmental Assessment, Horses and Citizens both wait patiently for whatever comes next. Many of the Calicos were purchased for far more than the adoption fee, a fact acknowledged little in mainstream media or on government web sites.

While a 100% adoption rate – the apparent benchmark of a ‘successful’ program – remains elusive, the interested Public has stepped up and paid out. And that money is slated for the BLM’s coffers, as well. If the $125.00 fee alone were taken into consideration, $7,151,500 or roughly $715,150 per year in adoption fees has been, in theory, rendered into the BLM pocketbook for the past 10 roundup years, an addition to the taxpayer money already funneled into the Program through appropriations.

The table below represents Long Term Pastures for June, 2008, from a report authored by the Government Accountability Office:

(Note: The GAO based this investigation and report on interviews and surveys with BLM field offices.)

In 2000, BLM spent approximately $668,000 in 2000, compared to more than $9.1 million in 2007 to care for wild horses in long-term holding. The long-term holding facilities are primarily located in Oklahoma and Kansas, where forage is typically more abundant.

Table 12: BLM Long-Term Holding Facilities, June 2008
Name of facility


Year(s) animals first held in facility













Teterville East





Teterville West































South Dakota












41 – Long-term holding costs were, on average, $1.20 in 2000, $1.22 in 2001, and $1.25 per horse per day from 2001 through 2004. In 2005, the cost increased to $1.27 per horse per day through 2007 and will increase to $1.28 per horse per day by the end of 2008.

Using the 2008 ‘per horse’ amount in the footnote, this calculates out to well over $10M dollars for 22,100 animals or slightly less than $940,000 per pasture per year, in 2008 dollars. This year, with purportedly over 40,000 Captive Wild equines, the bulk of which are scheduled to live in exile, that figure could rise to $1.7M per pasture – for animals deemed ‘unadoptable’. As of this writing, they are unavailable to the Public for either viewing or acquisition, and so generate no income.

And, there are the inconsistencies within the Gospels: According to Published Land Statistics, 57,212 wild horses and burros, conceivably acquired by the Public since 2000 (the Burns Amendment and it’s fallout carefully ignored, for the moment), are considered a failing as it applies to the Adoption Program. For FY 2009, published data places those adoptions at 3,474 animals, from 6,413 removed.

Yet, the FY 2009 Adoption Statistics from the BLM’s web site, , adoption numbers total much less – 2,614 animals, a difference of 860 animals for statistics published for the same fiscal year by the same agency.

There is a consensus among those who advocate for Wild Equines that routinely calls into question the accuracy of nearly all data presented as fact, whether mathematics or science. That data would seem to be authored with the hope that, when faced with a hundred thousand lines of information, numbers and graphs, the eye will cloud over and the mind will wander to other, more interesting tasks. Blame can land elsewhere, with no pursuit of either accuracy or accountability.

But if efforts are failing, it cannot always be traced to inaction on the part of the Public. Sometimes, despite attempts to establish relationships with those who hold the reins, earnest expressions of interest, following up and following through, it all goes sideways.

19 replies »

  1. I now fully believe that the unstated BLM plan is to send all of the horses in long term holding to slaughter. I have been supportive of some of what the BLM does but they show no evidence of addressing problems repeatedly identified by external and quasi external review. Hell they could not even post the recommendations that their “objective equine professional observers” made. Instead they posted a PR spin indicating their handling and procedures were right on target, which was not what the actual report stated. I hope a day will come when the DOI house is cleaned.


  2. It should be obvious to even the most dense and brain dead observers that what the BLM (I have other less benign names for that agency) has been doing to decimate the herds of wild horses that roamed free when the agency was originally charged by Congress in 1971 with the responsibility for maintaining and preserving with minimal human interference. Their collective destruction of herd and band structure, whether through ignorance of the nature of wild horses, sheer stupidity, or uncaring, brain dead bureaucratic slugs that have no concept of the meaning of “maintain and preserve” or “minimal human interference” is unconscionable, inexcusable, illegal in that they are in violation of the law and intent of Congress, inhumane and cruel – and hiring contractors that are clearly incompetent and unknowing of how to handle horses – did I leave anything out? The BLM gives wild horse advocates placating lip service but goes right ahead with their egregious operations and at the rate they are proceeding will soon have accomplished what appears to me to be their ultimate goal of getting rid of all free roaming horses. Obviously our voices of passive protest are not being listened too. If they are not stopped somehow, and soon, the damage they will have done will be irreversible. Abbey or Salazar could stop these inhumane and cruelly conducted stampedes and removals dead in their tracks with the stroke of a pen if they would stop lying to us and agree to a thorough review of what they are doing before driving what is left of the horses further down into an abyss they will not be able to climb out of where they will eventually fade into the sunset of once upon a time. The next big show starts this Monday on the Antelope Complex and for them to ignore our many thousands of protests and Madeleine’s incredibly generous offer of sanctuary is totally devoid of any reason and logic when it would save millions of OUR tax dollars and result in much more reasonable treatment for the horses


  3. It seems the BLM sees their highest priorety for accuracy is in remove horses. Everything else is done in a fashion that will allow them to quickly get back to their number 1 priorety with no care for accuracy.


    • Abbey’s public statement on Friday 21 January that Madeleine’s offer was rejected because it would not save taxpayers’ dollars is another example of an all too typical BLM attempt to mislead the public. It is another bald in-your-face-so-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it lie. Until Abbey and the whole BLM heirarchy are put out to join Don Glenn in the retirement pasture there will be very little if any change in BLM policies and practices regarding the wild horse management policies and practices. That is simply too clear.


  4. My gutt tells me that those who now hold the reins on these magnificent animals have just one thing in mind and that is to decimate the herds be that for cattle concerns (priority numero uno?), mining or just plain stupidity and misguided lock step thinking.
    Much as in other bureaucratic nightmares and bunglings, communications are such that nothing gets through to create any common sense behavior. So much suffering has happened as a result thereof.
    Saddening and maddening. History will prove this to be a very bleak period for the conduct of man.


  5. One thing jumps out at me from my own person experience, 1 buyer =a repeat buyer, well known to the BLM-but none of us, was/is going to purchase all 255 SA horses at canon, right from STH processing facilities..these horse will never show up as LTH horses..I believe that many fof the SA horses are being sold this they are reflected as lisa said as “adopted” statistics..where as actual adoptions @ canon city were 7 on the first adoption day..i do not have a number for the next 2 days, but you cannot just show up to adopt and must be cleared by the prison with special permission for a camera..the prison trained horses last year that were sold-25 sand they are in demand for horses some just halter broke and handled-some broke to ride..the actual number being adopted is small..the horses gone..much larger..In this last year yes, several advocates have stepped up to buy large groups just to save them as familys and to preserve genetics, which is not relective of the adoption proigram as a whole ..recent developments of not allowing people to see potential horses to adopt in holding is going to kill ordinary sales, comvbine that with a truly lousy job of marketing and NO pictures-or non flattering pictures and hauling mustangs around to these satellite adoptions that are by far not the beautiful best reps of what we know to be the high quality of mustangs..truly degrades the p[ublics opinion of what a mustang looks like..I have to wonder if this is just poor marketing or intentional..people want to know..what happened to all those beautiful mustangs they saw at roundups and in the photographers pictures in the wild..and so do I..where are they..all the videos and photos of LTH horses show very few colored horses but herds of solids..there are many more questions than answers, but thank you for digging Lisa..we need FOIA requests to find out what is happening and at what stage do our SA horses who disappear into that black hole..I hyave a book full


  6. By the way BLM has posted a current as of Oct 10 2010 facility report holding and capacity of adoption will notice many of the names of LTH facilities have changed


  7. By the way-cost per head on SA horses by the semiload of 40-$10 a head, which changes the income from the adoption program dramatically.


  8. Lisa, thank you so much for writing this article! BLM’s charts and statistics never add up which is completely frustrating, but it’s a relief to know that there are many others doing the math that never adds up and reach the same conclusion.
    Thank you for revealing your findings for us all!

    PS – Sandra, could you please clarify what you mean about the LTH names changing? They’ve added many more facilities this year, but I’m confused on where you’re seeing the names changed. Thanks.


    • some places added some dropped on the oct 2010 chart of facilities, preperation facilities and maitence facilities doing both also


    • As I read it all it came down to was a bunch of excuses for no one doing anything to help these horses. Even the a**hole that owned the property admitted he stopped the sale as he didn’t want to sell his horses for $200. No its much better to do nothing and allow them to come to this. So once again it will come down to a massive rescue–the same rescues that they want to turn into criminals.


      • There are still wild horses on the range. Before processing and gelding there needs to be intercession to get them to real sanctuaries where they can be free and Managed for reproductive success and complimentary ecological balance. mar


  9. “(Note: The GAO based this investigation and report on interviews and surveys with BLM field offices.)”

    That makes the GAO report not worth the paper it was written on and puts it on the same level as the BLM IG report stating that BLM practices are necessary and humane. The GAO is supposed to INDEPENDENTLY dig beneath the surface to ferret out the truth and inform the public. When they simply take the the “facts and figures” presented by whatever agency they are “investigating” that makes the investigation results null and void. It is malfeasance on the part of the GAO. They should be doing the kind of work Linda has done for this article.


    • Wambli my Dear – just the fact that you caught that and are now a bit miffed – you can call me Boodles if you wish and it was worth it!


  10. This agency, BLM, is a disgrace. What is wrong with Obama. I have e-mailed and called his office numerous times and his flunkees say they will give him the messages. He has children that I’m sure would love to see these beautiful creatures exist during their own and their children’s lifetime. Is our President living in a big hole and can’t control the disgusting people he calls employees. If so, he is not capable of making good descisions for any of us. What a pitiful situation for our horses. We must fight to win this fight for our georgeous animals. If we don’t, one of our treasures will be gone forever. I’m almost thinking we should all call for a “STOP EATING CATTLE MONTH” and/or longer. If a hugh number of our taxpayers (citizens) do this, I’m sure a message will be sent that we can put these cattlemen out of business if we stick together so they better get their cattle off our ranges. At this point, I’m looking for anything that will save our wild horses and burros.


  11. “Lady Madeleine Pickens has put her considerable wealth and energy behind efforts to relieve the BLM of a portion of it’s burden by securing a massive acquisition of captive Wild Horses and constructing a large-scale sanctuary, a beautiful desert mirage that continues to shimmer in the distance, just beyond reach. Despite Lady Madeleine’s willingness to continually rework her best laid plans to placate all involved, her goals remain unfulfilled;”

    Please remember that Madeleine never was asking to manage wild horses on public lands but to care for captive and Non-reproducing same sex groups of geldings and mares on a private viewing facility where she would showcase these animals. This was not the answer to our problems with how our “in the wild horses” are being removed, mistreated and killed.

    Thanks Lisa- for putting this together to show we have been very supportive of the wild ones being removed. Now we may see this blurring between Sale Authority and Adoption in order for BLM to hide even more information from us of the realities of the fates of removed wild horses.

    I hope other wild horse lovers and advocates will continue to speak up for stallions and adopt or buy them and their families to save their genetic heritage. mar


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